Russian officials struck a defiant note Monday after Western leaders threatened to further punish Moscow for escalated fighting in eastern Ukraine over the weekend.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists that rocket shelling Saturday in the city of Mariupol, which left at least 30 people dead, was a tragedy that was being manipulated to “whip up anti-Russian hysteria” in the West.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Russian news agencies that Ukraine was responsible for the “barbarous shelling” and said that the crisis could only be resolved if there was “firm political will on the part of Kiev.”
The Russian economy has been hit hard by Western sanctions and plummeting oil prices, and the ruble has already lost about half its value in the past year.
In the storm debris littering a Washington State shoreline, Bonnie Wood saw something grisly: the mangled bodies of dozens of scraggly young seabirds.
Walking half a mile along the beach at Twin Harbors State Park on Wednesday, Wood spotted more than 130 carcasses of juvenile Cassin’s auklets—the blue-footed, palm-size victims of what is becoming one of the largest mass die-offs of seabirds ever recorded.
“It was so distressing,” recalled Wood, a volunteer who patrols Pacific Northwest beaches looking for dead or stranded birds. “They were just everywhere. Every ten yards we’d find another ten bodies of these sweet little things.”
Cassin’s auklets are tiny diving seabirds that look like puffballs. They feed on animal plankton and build their nests by burrowing in the dirt on offshore islands. Their total population, from the Baja Peninsula to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, is estimated at somewhere between 1 million and 3.5 million.
Sheldon Silver, the longtime speaker of the New York State Assembly, agreed on Sunday to relinquish his duties on a temporary basis as he fights federal corruption charges.
His decision came amid mounting pressure from his fellow Democrats in the Assembly, who worried that the criminal charges would impair his ability to carry out the duties of one of the most powerful positions in the state’s government.
In an unusual arrangement, Mr. Silver would not quit his post. Instead, he would temporarily delegate his duties as speaker to a group of senior Assembly members.
Under the plan, which the Assembly’s Democratic caucus is to consider in a closed-door meeting on Monday afternoon, Mr. Silver would “not specifically step down, but step back,” according to a person briefed on the situation, who insisted on anonymity because the plan had not yet been presented to the caucus.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday that the storm approaching on Monday was likely to be one of the biggest to ever strike New York City, and he urged people to stay indoors to avoid powerful winds, low visibility and “treacherous” road conditions.
The National Weather Service, which issued a blizzard warning for the greater New York City area, forecast gusts of wind up to 50 miles per hour and snow accumulation of “at least one to two feet.”
But Mr. de Blasio said the storm could bring up to three feet of snow, beginning with flurries late Monday morning, and that the heaviest snowfall would probably come Monday night into Tuesday morning.
Schools will be open on Monday but are likely to close on Tuesday, Mr. de Blasio said. Alternate side of the street parking was canceled, along with the city’s annual count of the homeless population, which had been scheduled for Monday night.
Alexis Tsipras, the leftist political maverick who swept to power on Sunday in Greece in a popular rebellion, formed a new coalition government on Monday with a right-wing fringe party that will charge immediately into the task of reversing wrenching austerity policies and negotiating with European leaders to reduce Greece’s debt burden.
Panos Kammenos, the leader of the coalition partner, Independent Greeks, told reporters shortly after meeting with Mr. Tsipras on Monday morning that the two had formed a new government. The Independent Greeks, who won 4.7 percent of the national vote, have often taken a hard line against austerity and might push for tough terms in any debt talks.
It was not immediately clear how the power would be shared, but Mr. Tsipras planned to go to the Greek presidential compound in the early afternoon to formally receive the mandate to form a government.
But as for Norquist’s other point — that only 4 percent of Americans favor tax increases: That’s true only in the most general sense. And in fact, Americans and even Republicans are quite okay with raising taxes, particularly taxes on wealthier Americans and corporations.
Case in point is a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last week. It asked Americans whether they thought corporations paid their fair share of taxes, too little or too much. And 65 percent of Americans said they paid too little.
Even when it comes to Republicans — the party that has made a name for itself as the small-government, low-tax party — a plurality (43 percent) say taxes on corporations are too low, while one-third say they pay their fair share and 14 percent say they pay too much.
There’s a false Yellow Peril that the populist demagogues used to propagate to spread fear and xenophobia against Asian minorities in the US. That’s the past however, and this is now. The last large scale Communist country on the planet is a peril - not due to the people, but rather due to the over reach of government surveillance through technology. While activists rightly decry the US over reach few are paying attention to the dangers of Chinese tech and apps.
The world is witnessing a massive expansion of Chinese telecommunications reach and influence, powered entirely by users choosing to participate in it. In Usage of the mobile messaging app WeChat (?? Weixin), for example, has skyrocketed not only inside China, but outside, as well. Due to these systems being built upon proprietary protocols and software, their inner workings are largely opaque and mostly insecure. (WeChat has full permission to activate microphones and cameras, track GPS, access user contacts and photos, and copy all of this data at any time to their servers.)
In this talk, Nathan Freitas — Berkman Fellow, director of technology strategy and training at the Tibet Action Institute. and leader of the Guardian Project — questions the risks to privacy and security foreign users engage in when adopting apps from Chinese companies. Do the Chinese companies behind these services have any market incentive or legal obligation to protect the privacy of their non-Chinese global userbase? Do they willingly or automatically turn over all data to the Ministry of Public Security or State Internet Information Office? Will we soon see foreign users targeted or prosecuted due to “private” data shared on WeChat? And is there any fundamental difference in the impact on privacy freedom for an American citizen using WeChat versus a Chinese citizen using WhatsApp or Google?
More info on this event here: cyber.law.harvard.edu
A fix for the Thunderstrike proof-of-concept bootkit attack has made its way into a beta version of Apple’s OS X, according to a just-published report. The new fix may indicate that a patch isn’t far from general release.
The exploit was dubbed Thunderstrike because it spreads through maliciously modified peripheral devices connected to a Mac’s Thunderbolt interface. When plugged into a Mac that’s booting up, the device injects what’s known as an option ROM into the extensible firmware interface (EFI), the firmware responsible for starting a Mac’s system management mode and enabling other low-level functions. Once a Mac is infected, the malicious firmware can survive hard drive reformats and OS reinstallations. And since Thunderstrike replaces the digital signature Apple uses to ensure only authorized firmware runs on Macs, there are few viable ways to disinfect infected systems.
Earlier this month, Thunderstrike creator Trammell Hudson said that only the latest versions of Mac Mini’s and iMac Retina 5ks were largely immune to the exploit but that Apple engineers were in the process of developing a fix for the rest of the Mac product line. According to a report published Friday by iMore, the patch has been spotted in the latest beta of OS X 10.10.2, the next version of Yosemite.
What [Noam] Scheiber is basically saying is that if you want to unite whites and minority voters, you have to focus on the issues that are a priority to whites. That’s pretty much white supremacy in a nutshell. His big “tell” comes in what he leaves out of that last sentence. The reason racial groups view the issues he places at the bottom differently is because they affect racial groups differently. White people never had to be concerned about “stop-and-frisk” because it almost never happened to a white person. White mothers/fathers, wives, siblings don’t spend much time worrying that their son, husband, brother will be harassed/beaten/killed because some police officer jumped to the conclusion that he was a “dangerous black/brown man.” But that is exactly how police actions become a priority for voters of color. The fear of what can happen becomes a life-and-death issue for them - as we’ve seen lately.
Not sure what to say besides crazy antisemitic conspiracy theorists are crazy.
ATHENS, Greece — A politician from the main opposition party in Greece caused an uproar after posting an anti-Semitic rant on his Facebook page accusing the Greek prime minister of heading a Jewish conspiracy.
Theodoros Karypidis, the left-wing Syriza Party’s candidate for governor of Western Macedonia, said Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was at the head of a Jewish plot to visit “a new Hanukkah against the Greeks.” […]
H/T to @Gus_802 for bringing this story to my attention via a RT.
It appears the party in the article above, Syriza, has won in the national elections.
ATHENS — Greece rejected the punishing economics of austerity on Sunday and sent a warning signal to the rest of Europe as the left-wing Syriza party won a decisive victory in national elections, positioning its tough-talking leader, Alexis Tsipras, to become the next prime minister.
With 60 percent of the vote counted, Syriza had 36 percent, almost eight points ahead of the governing center-right New Democracy Party of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who had conceded defeat. The only uncertainty was whether Syriza would muster an outright parliamentary majority or if it would have to form a coalition. […]
This is obviously not good news for Jews living in Greece.
Additionally, while trying to find out what Greece’s Jewish population is, I came across another antisemitic story form this month, this one coming from a right-wing politician.
ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — A Greek government official has been forced to clarify that Greek Jews do pay taxes and have the same obligations as every citizen.
“Greek citizens of Jewish faith pay their tax normally like all Greeks and do not enjoy any exemption or extra burden because of their religion,” said Giorgos Kalantzis, the Education Ministry’s general secretary for religion.
Last month, right-wing politician Panos Kammenos said in a television interview that Jews don’t pay taxes. […]
The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece also has a whole slew of recent stories on antisemitism at their website.
Last but not least, goddamnedfrank provided me with a link to the ADL Global 100 Survey, which is an index of antisemitism. Here’s the info for Greece—as you can see, the index, at 69%, is quite high. Higher even than Iran (56%), believe it or not. There’s also a PDF of the report’s Executive Summary available for download:
H/T to Skandal for providing population stats in the comments.
re: #4 Skandal
As of 2012, the Jewish population of Greece was 4,500. 0.04% of the total population. According to Jewish Population of the World